sac music blackout

SAMPRA boycott could see a total music blackout on SABC

Andile Sicetsha - 19.07.2021

SABC could lose rights to broadcasting music from SAMPRA artists if SAMPRA goes ahead with its court application to force the broadcaster into paying back-dated royalties.

The South African Music Performance Rights Association (SAMPRA) is on the verge of strong-arming SABC into a total blackout over unpaid royalties totalling R250 million.

SABC faces music blackout: Here’s why

If this happens, every state-owned media outlet will be restricted from playing music administered by SAMPRA, from top-draw artists like Babes Wodumo, Cassper Nyovest, Kabza De Small and thousands more.

SAMPRA CEO Pfanani Lishivha revealed in a recent interview with Power FM that the argument from their end is simple: SABC ought to pay back-dated royalties, make commitments to settle future-dated debts or unlist its member-base from its playlists.

Lishivha revealed that before the end of July, SAMPRA will release a statement detailing its intentions to take the state-owned broadcast to court over continued failure to honour payments of public performance royalties for the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 financial years.

The association’s CEO added that this last resort could have been avoided if SABC was forthcoming with finding common ground in a decade-long dispute.

“If they were willing to come to the table and say, ‘we have a cash problem, what can we do to resolve this problem?’, we would have been willing to discuss a payment plan,” Lishivha said.

How much does SAMPRA want?

At this time, SAMPRA has not indicated when it intends to pursue the legal route. The national broadcaster, on the other hand, has yet to offer an official response to these threats.

From what we understand, SABC and SAMPRA have been at loggerheads over profit splits, turning over financial records to the music rights association and a number of housekeeping issues.

“We have, in the last four years, paid in excess of R804 million. If we had money from the SABC, we would probably be talking about R1.3 billion that would have been paid to our artists but, unfortunately, the public broadcaster, the only broadcaster that gets money from the government and the public is the one that’s not willing to play ball,” Lishivha said.